Zar Alam Khan
ISLAMABAD: While 9 to 12 classes are opening from Jan 18 after months of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) has created a crisis not only for its educational institutions but also for about 300 teachers, mostly women, from provinces working in Islamabad under the wedlock policy by removing them from their posts.
The teachers, who were relieved of their duties in a span of a few days, took to streets and started a protest drive, terming the move illegal and anti-education.
The wedlock policy was evolved by the government to protect family units. Under this policy, working couples are entitled to live and work at the same station.
On Friday, the teachers held a protest outside National Press Club in Islamabad for the second time and called upon the prime minister and other authorities to direct the FDE to withdraw their repatriation orders so that they could continue living with their children who are in schools and colleges in the capital.
Female teachers working in Islamabad under wedlock policy protest against FDE for issuing repatriation orders of about 250 teachers. The protest was held outside National Press Club. They demanded withdrawal of repatriation orders and restoration of salaries. @Shafqat_Mahmood pic.twitter.com/PCFx5fO2Ix
— Chitral Today (@ChitralToday) January 15, 2021
The protesting teachers said they had been serving in Islamabad schools for 10 to 20 years and some of them for even longer period of time.
The teachers said they had come from the education departments of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir to continue their jobs while living with their spouses who were already posted in Islamabad.
In 2012, the then prime minister approved a summary moved by the education ministry for permanent absorption of the teachers who had by then worked in the capital for over five years.
In 2013, the FDE asked the teachers for submitting permanent no-objection certificates (NOCs) from their parent departments so that they would be absorbed under a 10 per cent quota set under the wedlock policy. The teachers also appeared in tests and interviews and completed all the required procedures.
However, after completing the formalities, the directorate dragged its feet on regularizing the teachers but absorbed scores of blue-eyed teachers.
In 2020, the teachers moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking direction to the FDE for absorption of the teachers. Officials from the directorate contended in the court that these teachers had joined the FDE without following the required procedure, including the posts being advertised.
While the court was yet to announce its final verdict on the petition of those teachers who had submitted their permanent NOCs for absorption, the FDE started repatriating all teachers and stopped their salaries.
The protesters said they cannot shift back to their native areas after so many years as their families are now settled in Islamabad and their children are continuing their education in schools and colleges here.
They warned that it the FDE did not withdraw the repatriation orders, they would be left with no other option but to stage a sit-in in the capital.